Why Are The Leaves On My Christmas Cactus Limp? 3 Causes And Solutions

Limp christmas cactus from overwatering

If you’ve been keeping a close eye on your Christmas cactus and have noticed that some of the leaves are starting to look limp, you’re not alone. This is a common problem, and there are several possible causes. In this article, we will discuss three of the most common reasons why leaves might start to wilt on a Christmas cactus, as well as solutions for fixing the problem. This way in future years you don’t have to keep asking yourself: why are the leaves on my Christmas cactus limp!

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Why Is My Christmas Cactus Wilting?

The most likely reason your Christmas cactus is wilting is that you’ve got a watering issue going on. Whether this is underwatering, overwatering, or soggy soil (root rot), water is your most likely culprit to a wilting cactus.

Underwatering Makes Leaves of a Christmas Cactus To Go Limp

If you’re not giving your cactus enough water, the leaves are likely to start wilting. This is because the plant needs water to stay strong and healthy. It’s important to make sure that your Christmas cactus is getting enough water but be careful as overwatering can also cause problems.

Other than just feeling the soil to determine if it’s dry or not, you can also pay close attention to the leaves. If your Christmas cactus leaves are limp, but also look dry or dried out, it’s most likely you’ve got an underwatering problem.

(keep reading here why your Christmas cactus leaves are yellow)

Overwatering Causes A Christmas Cactus To Go Limp

Another reason why the leaves on your Christmas cactus are limp could be due to overwatering.

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If you think that overwatering is causing your Christmas cactus wilt, it’s important to act fast. Check the soil for sogginess, and if it is damp, stop watering it. Don’t water for at least a few weeks. If you don’t have drainage holes in the pot, try tipping the pot sideways to see if any water will come out. And then I suggest repotting into one with drainage holes.

(Keep reading about Overwatered Christmas Cacti here)

The leaves of an overwatered Christmas cactus will look different from the underwatered, because while they are both limp, these will likely be a lighter green/yellow, and will look almost full of water.

Soggy Soil/Root Rot Can Make Your Christmas Cactus Wilt

If you’re giving your cactus too much water, the soil can become oversaturated and cause root rot. This will lead to wilting and limp leaves on the plant. This can also occur from lack of sunlight (remember that plants need less water in the winter than summer due to colder and shorter days).

How Do I Save My Limp Christmas Cactus?

The first and most important step with saving your Christmas cactus is to determine which of those 3 causes is the culprit.

Once you’ve determined that, then it’s time to heal your limp Christmas cactus!

Underwatered Christmas Cactus Saving

If it’s an underwatered cactus, it’s a fairly easy solution. Just water the cactus! Don’t overwater it, but get the soil damp. Be sure to slowly water the cactus, otherwise all of the water will just drain out of the drainage holes without actually moisturizing the soil.

Should I cut off the leaves?

If you’re really anxious for, why are the leaves on my Christmas cactus limp, you may want to go directly to drastic solutions and get rid of the problem by cutting off the leaves. But normally you just want to leave the leaves alone. Although, if they are looking very yellow and shriveled, cutting them off will help the plant more in the long run. Just choose wisely which leaves you are cutting off, and try to not cut off all of the leaves.

Saving an Overwatered Christmas Cactus with Limp Leaves

If you’ve overwatered your plant recently, then it’s just a matter of letting the soil dry out. Do this by placing your cactus somewhere with slightly more light and refrain from watering until the soil is fully dry before you water again.

The leaves should perk up once there’s less water in the soil, because they won’t be oversaturated anymore.

Saving a Limp Christmas Cactus with Root Rot

If you’ve been having a chronic issue with overwatering, or after a while of waiting for the soil to dry out it’s not, you may have root rot. If this is the case, take the Christmas cactus out of the soil. Try to clear off as much soil as you can so you can see the roots. Then trim off any roots that are limp and brown (we’re looking for white, plump roots). Then repot in fresh soil that’s dry. Watch this video to help determine which roots are rotten and which are healthy

If you’re looking for a new soil for your Christmas cactus, choose a slightly acidic soil that is made for drainage, like the  Harris Succulent & Cactus Potting Mix.

If the leaves of your Christmas cactus are limp and very yellow, cut a few of them off. We want to keep as many leaves on the cactus as possible, and many will revert back to green, but it’s a good idea to cut off any that look fully yellow/past the point of saving.

In Summary

Limp leaves on your Christmas Cactus can be caused by under-watering, over-watering, or root rot. If it’s from under-watering, just give the plant some water and water slowly to ensure it’s actually soaking up the water. If it’s from overwatering, don’t water for a few weeks, and make sure the soil is drying out. If it’s from root rot, take the cactus out of its pot and trim off any limp or brown roots, then repot in fresh soil. If the leaves are very yellow, cut them off.

With some time and care, your Christmas Cactus should start looking healthier within a few weeks!

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